HeritageGateway - Home
Site Map
Text size: A A A
You are here: Home > > > > Devon & Dartmoor HER Result
Devon & Dartmoor HERPrintable version | About Devon & Dartmoor HER | Visit Devon & Dartmoor HER online...

See important guidance on the use of this record.

If you have any comments or new information about this record, please email us.

HER Number:MDV12461
Name:Umberleigh House, Atherington


Umberleigh House on site of probable pre-13th century mansion, traditionally a palace and chapel of King Athelstan. The medieval mansion was demolished 1800, although part of the chapel remains and some late 15th century fabric also survives in the main range, although obscured by later remodelling. Roof structure considered particularly important for the high quality of its carpentry.


Grid Reference:SS 593 246
Map Sheet:SS52SE
Admin AreaDevon
Civil ParishAtherington
DistrictNorth Devon
Ecclesiastical ParishATHERINGTON

Protected Status

Other References/Statuses

  • Old DCC SMR Ref: SS52SE/10
  • Old Listed Building Ref (I)
  • Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division: SS52SE3

Monument Type(s) and Dates

  • MANOR HOUSE (XIII to XVIII - 1201 AD to 1800 AD (Between))

Full description

Risdon, T., 1811, Choreographical Description of Devon, 1580-1640 (Monograph). SDV20653.

Lysons, D. + Lysons, S., 1822, Magna Britannica (Monograph). SDV323771.

Cresswell, B. F., 1938, Umberleigh Chapel, 433-439 (Article in Serial). SDV336854.

Pevsner, N., 1952, The Buildings of England: North Devon, 43-44,151 (Monograph). SDV336196.

Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division, 1953, SS52SE3 (Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card). SDV336855.

Umberleigh House on site of probable pre-13th century mansion. Traditionally a palace and chapel of King Athelstan. The conqueror bestowed it upon the Abbess of the Holy Trinity, Caen, and perhaps she had a rural oratory here. Hercules de Solerys (died 1171) was Lord of the Manor. Isabella de Wyllyngton inherited the property in late 14th century; and between 1422 and 1448 Sir W. Polton lived there. The manor house was demolished in 1800 but part of chapel remained. Present house stone built and plaster faced house with no visible trace of antiquity. It has a narrow porch. Other details: SS52SE3.

Department of Environment, 1965, Atherington (List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest). SDV337786.

Umberleigh House and Barton, including adjoining hothouses to rear courtyard and remains of Chapel.
Large house, occupied as two dwellings with some fabric of the 13th century chapel surviving in attached outhouses to rear courtyard. Substantial late 15th century fabric to main range concealed by late 18th, early 19th century remodelling, with a large 17th century wing added to rear. Painted rendered stone rubble. Slate roof with gable ends, asbestos slates to rear. Ridge and gable end brick stacks to south side, left end, similar rubble stacks with drips at right end. Axial rubble stack towards gable end of rear wing.
The medieval ground floor plan has been largely obscured by the Georgian remodelling of the house which created two large rooms to the left and three rooms to right of the wide entrance hall, but the original 15th century structure consisted of a massive ten-bay, possibly open hall house though always heated by a stack. In the 17th century a large wing was added to the rear right end creating an overall L-shaped plan, with the covered cart entrance and former chapel incorporated into piggeries completing the three-sided rear courtyard plan. Two storeys with garrets to the rear wing. Symmetrical five-bay classical centre range with two additional bays at left end and canted two storey bay with conical roof at right end, both ends breaking forward slightly. Central range has five window range of hornless 12-paned sashes over two similar sashes to each side of Tuscan porch with engaged pilasters flanking six-panelled door with fanlight. Similar fenestration to two left end bays with 20th century door. Canted bay at right end is blind. Rear wing has irregular fenestration with mostly 20-paned hornless sashes. The back wall of the outhouses to rear originally formed the south wall of a chapel, and contains fragments othe chamfered window jambs and a complete infilled 13th century doorway, with engaged shafts with lipped capitals from which the moulded pointed arch springs.
Interior: main range has late 18th, early 19th century geometrical staircase to entrance hall with wreathed handrail and stick balusters. 19th century Adam style chimneypiece and ceiling centrepiece to room to right, and moulded cornices to this room and room to left of entrance hall which has a marble chimneypiece. A small stone bearing Champernowne crest has been reset in the rear wall of the entrance hall. The majority of upper floor rooms in the east wing contain late 17th century moulded plaster cornices, with a late 17th century staircase up to the garrets with moulded handrail and splat balusters, and an 18th century balustrade with turned balusters to the head of the staircase leading from the main range into the rear wing. The most remarkable survival is the roof structure. Over the main range from the left end it consists of 11 arch-braced trusses with short curved feet, three tiers of threaded purlins and ridge purlin, with morticed and tenoned straight collars. The soffits of the arch bracing have hollow flanking roll mouldings, with roll mouldings to both top and bottom arrises of the inner faces of the purlins, and to the underside of the ridge purlin. The two left end bays retain their full two tiers of curved windbracing to the north side with all but two of the bays retaining a single tier of windbraces, which have identical mouldings to the purlins. Each end truss is moulded on its inner face. Beyond the right end truss is a closed truss with short curved feet with mortices for studs, then five more trusses with short curved feet, the second truss being closed with a solid stone partition. The rear wing has four 17th century trusses with high lap-jointed collars and halvings for raking struts to the tie beams. The house was formerly a seat of the Bassett family. The exceedingly high quality of the roof carpentry places it in the very top category
of medieval survivals in North Devon. Other details: LBS 96871.

Gallant, L., 1986, Deer Parks and Paddocks of England (Un-published). SDV656.

Risdon writing in 1630 stated that in the days of King Athelstone the parishes of Atherington and Umberleigh were heavily timbered with a palace at Umberleigh. In the 12th century it passed to Asculph de Soleigny and in the 14th century to Sir Ralph Willington. But the 17th century it was owned by the Bassetts. It had already been disparked long before 1884.

Thorp, J., 1999, Observations During Repairs to Umberleigh House, Atherington, Devon (Report - Watching Brief). SDV337785.

Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants were contracted to record masonry of front (s) wall of Umberleigh House whilst historic information was exposed during repairs. When plaster stripped, exposed masonry contained evidence of earlier front. Main block and west projection rebuilt/refaced in 1674 (plaque). Semi-octagonal projection to east added during 19th century refurbishments. No obvious evidence for late medieval origins of main block except possibly at east end where masonry contained a couple of putlog holes. Porch dated 1525 at Watermouth Castle believed to have been removed from Umberleigh House in early 19th century. See report for full details.

Watts, M., 2007, Archaeological Recording of Redundant Agricultural Buildings at Umberleigh Barton, Atherington, Devon, 1,3 (Report - Survey). SDV338893.

Sources / Further Reading

SDV20653Monograph: Risdon, T.. 1811. Choreographical Description of Devon, 1580-1640. Choreographical Description of Devon, 1580-1640. Unknown.
SDV323771Monograph: Lysons, D. + Lysons, S.. 1822. Magna Britannica. Magna Britannica: A Concise Topographical Account of The Several Counties o. 6: Devonshire. Unknown.
SDV336196Monograph: Pevsner, N.. 1952. The Buildings of England: North Devon. The Buildings of England: North Devon. Paperback Volume. 43-44,151.
SDV336854Article in Serial: Cresswell, B. F.. 1938. Umberleigh Chapel. Transactions of the Devonshire Association. 70. A5 Hardback. 433-439.
SDV336855Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card: Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division. 1953. SS52SE3. Ordnance Survey Archaeology Division Card. Card Index.
SDV337785Report - Watching Brief: Thorp, J.. 1999. Observations During Repairs to Umberleigh House, Atherington, Devon. Keystone Historic Buildings Consultants. K600. A4 Stapled + Digital.
Linked documents:1
SDV337786List of Blds of Arch or Historic Interest: Department of Environment. 1965. Atherington. Historic Houses Register. Website.
SDV338893Report - Survey: Watts, M.. 2007. Archaeological Recording of Redundant Agricultural Buildings at Umberleigh Barton, Atherington, Devon. 163/2007. A4 Stapled + Digital. 1,3.
SDV656Un-published: Gallant, L.. 1986. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England. Deer Parks and Paddocks of England. Manuscript.

Associated Monuments

MDV364Related to: Chapel, Umberleigh Barton, Atherington (Building)
MDV19694Related to: Deerpark, Atherington (Monument)
MDV35681Related to: Threshing Barn, Umberleigh Barton, Atherington (Building)
MDV73841Related to: Umberleigh Barton, Atherinton (Monument)

Associated Finds: none recorded

Associated Events: none recorded

Date Last Edited:Jun 6 2019 1:09PM